Socialize

Facebook

MBA Admissions Interview Tips

Increasingly, schools use the interview as a part of the admissions process. The policies differ from school to school:
• Obligatory for all applicants (eg: Kellogg)
• On invitation: after studying the applications, the school invites some applicants to interview (eg: Harvard, Columbia, and now Wharton)
• No interview in the admissions process, which is done only by written application (eg; Stanford).

Interviews last between 30 minutes and one hour The majority of schools offer the possibility of having the interview conducted by a member of the admissions (at the school or at presentation tours organized by the schools in the principal cities across the world) or with former students specially selected for this purpose.
There are numerous reasons to explain the growing importance of interviews in the admissions process. First of all, it’s an excellent opportunity to test your ‘soft skills’, which are becoming more and more important in the business world. These ‘soft skills’ consist of your aptitude to communicate, your charisma and your strength of character. In your application, these elements appear only implicitly; in an interview, on the other hand, these qualities become more evident.
Another reason for the expanding use of interviews lies in the fact that the schools are seeking more and more to sell themselves to certain applicants. Each school seeks to attract the best applicants because it is they who will later carry the reputation of the school. Competition is therefore intense and the schools use the interview to show themselves in the best light to the best applicants.

GENERAL ADVICE FOR THE INTERVIEW
This book brings together a tremendous amount of advice on the interview: in the chapters on the various schools (Harvard,  Stanford, NYU, Kellogg, Columbia, Wharton, INSEAD, Berkeley, Chicago and LBS), their authors will give you some great advice for successfully passing the interview. Their advice has been tested and proven, because each of these authors was ! However, there are four key pieces of advice to really underline:

1. Set your communication objectives
Like a politician or an advertising professional, you should define, prior to the interview, pertinent communication objectives. We mean by this that these communication objectives must enrich the overall positioning that you have developed for your application (cf section on general strategy for the application). You will also have to adapt these objectives depending on the school with which you have an interview, as each one has different buttons to press.

For example, the communication objectives of a Harvard colleague were:
• that he is a self-made man with a sense of initiative
• his openmindedness and international perspective
• his human qualities
Another of my fellow students had as his objectives
• his academic excellence
• his hi-tech expertise, in particular the internet
• his team spirit
You must not only take the time to pinpoint these objectives, but also to specify personal experiences which will illustrate the qualities on which you wish to place special emphasis.

2. Prepare your interviews until you are blue in the face
The key to success is not only to think about the answers to standard questions, but also to train yourself in getting these replies across. The secret of success is none other than doing ‘mock’ interviews. Try to get interviews from former MBA students or, failing that, with office colleagues or friends. One of the best-known professors at Harvard describes the three certificates of an applicant’s preparation as the following:
• The sputterer: the applicant has very vaguely prepared the contents and the shape of what he’s going to say. The only advantage of this level is that the applicant is spontaneous!
• The record: the applicant has adequately prepared the contents — but not enough to avoid giving the impression that it sounds overly prepared.
• The actor: the applicant has so well prepared the contents and the shape that he has the opportunity of concentrating on interacting skillfully with his interviewer. The latter will therefore not realize that the whole thing was prepared!
Studies have shown that the worst thing that can happen to you is that you fall into category 2 and that the best situation is to be ‘the actor’ (category 3). For once the best option is not the enemy of perfection, so you can give full rein to mock interviews until you feel that your mind is no longer busy rummaging around in the pigeon holes of your memory, but rather interacting with your environment.

3. Plead your case with eloquence!
We recommend that you be eloquent in the way you express yourself because one of the primary objectives of the interview is to see if you are a communicator. On the one hand, this means that you prepare answers for each of the questions (cf above). On the other hand, you must put passion into what you’re saying because it will give you that extra something to make you stand out from the rest. In the first year at Harvard, one of the courses studies the origin of the charisma of certain great business leaders. It emerges that the most charismatic leaders are those who feel a true passion for their work. This of course shines through in what they say.., passion is contagious and an impassioned speaker speech arouses far more interest from an audience. So give full voice to your deepest desire to do an MBA and to your career plans.

4. At no point should you lower your guard
Interviews with former students can become particularly friendly (one of my school friends told me that he had his interview in a former student’s winter chalet). One of the greatest mistakes to make is to lower your guard because the friendly atmosphere can make you feel like to and sharing certain doubts. Don’t let yourself go right up to the end of the interview. If you are still wondering whether the MBA corresponds to your personality and objectives, this is certainly not the place to discuss it.